E-readers are so book like that you’d think for someone used to writing and illustrating for print it would be relatively straightforward to create an e-picture book. However, there are some big differences between print and e-readers.
The real puzzle is that an e-book can be viewed on a vast variety of devices of different sizes which sometimes only display in black and white. With a print book, an illustrator knows very early on what page size they’re creating work for and whether or not it will be seen in colour. These things have a big influence on what’s produced.
Knowing exactly how illustrations will be seen in a printed picture book means images can safely bound across double-page spreads or be scattered as vignettes without fear of confusing readers, while text can be woven into the page design.
Compare that with the great unknown of e-readers. If a picture-book wants to cater for smaller devices, such as smartphones, the competition for page space between words and picture is very intense. There's a big risk of causing confusion by using double-page spreads, multiple vignettes, lots of text, and cool-but-complicated design.
As a parent, I certainly want my e-picture book to cater for smartphones. In my experience, a phone is often what’s closest to hand when out-and-about with a disgruntled child that's in desperate need of amusement.
Ultimately, I chose to illustrate for a small rectangle about the size of my kindle e-reader screen. And while my work is in colour, I've also had to take care that the illustrations will still work when viewed in black and white.
I hope I’ve learned enough along the way to make my first ever picture book designed and illustrated specifically for e-readers, Bel & Pip’s Apple Adventure, a good read.
Algy Craig Hall is the author and illustrator of several children's picture books that have been on national library reading schemes in the UK (The Deep Dark Wood) and US (Dino Bites) and shortlisted for prizes including the Roald Dahl Funny Prize (The Scariest Monster in the World), the Read It Again Award (Fine As We Are) and the MacMillan Prize. He has an MA in children's book illustation from Cambridge School of Art and lives in London with his wife and three children. Bel & Pip's Apple Adventure is Algy's first book specifically for e-readers.